View Full Version : Backing 5th Wheel?

03-11-2021, 02:51 PM
Hi, I’m a 5th wheel newbe. We are just about ready to buy a 32ft 5th wheel, then it dawned on me.

We have a 12ft wide paved driveway that is perpendicular to a 20ft wide road without a shoulder. Will this be enough space to jackknife and back the 5th wheel into the driveway?

Thank you in advance for all you 5th wheel experts!!!

ford truck guy11
03-12-2021, 10:17 AM
Plenty of room..

Go and get a couple of safety cones and find a big empty parking lot, perhaps a school on a Sunday... place the cones in the configuration you need/want and PRACTICE... then practice more.. once done, practice some more...

No worries, Happy Camping , don't be concerned about the driveway

03-12-2021, 11:48 AM
Should be room. Tip--approach so you are backing in to watch on driver's side. Much easier to monitor what the fiver is doing. Other direction is mostly blind--you will get many times in future to fight the blind side...

terry and jo
03-17-2021, 11:26 AM
Also, if you are "new" to backing trailers of any kind, some have found it easier to back up by placing their hand at the bottom of the steering wheel, which allows one to turn the steering wheel in the direction that one wants the rear of the trailer to go. (At least to start with. Personally, I've done it the opposite way for so long that it confuses me if I try to place my hands there.)


03-17-2021, 01:10 PM
Thanks Terry. I’ve backed standard trailers many times. Like you, my hands are at the top of the steering wheel. I’ve never backed a 5th wheel. I was concerned about getting a 5th wheel into my tight driveway.

Thanks for your response. Paul.

03-19-2021, 07:43 PM
Thanks Terry. Ive backed standard trailers many times. Like you, my hands are at the top of the steering wheel. Ive never backed a 5th wheel. I was concerned about getting a 5th wheel into my tight driveway.

Thanks for your response. Paul.
Paul as you aren't new to backing a trailer up a 5th wheel will just react a little different. Once you do it you'll find you can get it into tighter areas then a bumper tow.

terry and jo
03-19-2021, 10:59 PM
To add to Mike's post just above, if the previous trailers you backed up were shorter than what your fifth wheel is, you will pleasantly find out that the 5'er will back up easier. The longer distance between the truck rear axle and the trailer's axles will allow one to "adjust" left or right easier without having to pull forward and then retry backing again as much.


03-22-2021, 04:11 PM
While all that has been said is true especially about 5th wheels being easier BUT you're not gonna be able to do it right off the bat. Practice bit and it should work.

Had similar situation when we bought our 37 ft Alpine. 90 Degree turn into driveway that is huge incline besides. By the 3rd year we had it it was a one shot deal. B4 that it was a spectator sport for the neighbors.

03-22-2021, 05:30 PM
Our goal was 10 trips. By then we had done hills, trees, off camber tight corners, steep inclines, little gas stations, and now we just do it. You learn little things that only come with practice. Just keep calm, go slow and check. A lot. If you have a helper, stay extra calm and learn to talk the same talk at least as far as the 5th wheel is concerned. ;)

03-22-2021, 06:14 PM
Backing a 5er
There are a few tips that make it easier.

Tip 1: Do everything possible to insure that you will be turning on the driver side. Even if it means driving around the campground and up/down a few roads to get yourself turned around. Passenger is your blind side and should be last resort.

Tip 2: You have to learn how long the reaction time is for your trailer to react. Go to a parking lot and practice. Always use your trailers rear axle as the reference point. The reaction time is the time it takes from the time you turn the tow vehicle steering wheel until the time the trailer starts turning.

Tip 3: There are two terms you need to know. Neutral, Jack and Chase. Neutral position is when the tow vehicle steering wheel is at the position where the truck is going in a straight line. When you Jack the trailer you are causing it to turn the opposite direction that the truck is turning. Such as in jack-knife. Chase is when you are trying to straighten out the truck and trailer, thus the term chasing the trailer.

Tip 4: Get out and survey the parking area (with your spotter) for obstructions. Determine where you want the trailer to end up and pick a reference point, which will act as the "edge of the parking area".

Tip 5: Start with the truck and trailer traveling straight. You want the side you are turning into to be about 4' off the curb or edge of the road. When the tow vehicles rear axle is at the far edge of the parking space, cut your truck wheel hard away from the curb. When the truck is about a 45-degree angle to the curb (or as close as you can get given the space you have to use) straighten the wheel back to the neutral position. As soon as the truck has begun going straight, cut the wheel hard in the opposite direction until the truck is again parallel to the curb. STOP. Your trailer is now at a good angle to start backing up.

Tip 6: Jack the trailer until it get to about 15-20 degree angle of the space you are going to park it then start chasing it.

Tip 7: If your running out of space to get the truck & trailer running straight, don't be afraid to pull forward to help straighten it out.


I always have my wife (spotter) standing right next to the truck (rather than at the back) In the angle of the turn. We've already surveyed the area so we know what is where. We've picked our reference point as the point we want to miss. This point is far enough away from the opposite side of the parking area such that I will miss any obstruction. She watches to rear trailer axle and tells me whether to JACK IT or CHASE IT. That is the only thing I need to hear (other than STOP). With those terms I know exactly which way to turn. She is not standing at the back of the trailer flailing her arms yelling LEFT, NO MY LEFT, STRAIGHT, TURN IT THE OTHER WAY... Nobody can react to those terms.

03-22-2021, 06:49 PM
So we (I) use our rear view camera mounted on our 5th, so far no issues. Besides, CoS (wife) stands close by keeping in contact through the rear view mirrors. Also, pre-placing leveling shocks on the area intended to park can certainly help. I've seen others using walkie-talkies. Good luck and keep safe!!

03-22-2021, 07:36 PM
You guys are great. Many thanks!

03-22-2021, 08:20 PM
One other tip since you are a new 5th wheeler - know your rigs height and look up!

terry and jo
03-22-2021, 09:15 PM
One other tip since you are a new 5th wheeler - know your rigs height and look up!

This is good for more than just backing into a site. This needs to be known for overpasses over highways.

Also, I advise the spotter to be at the rear of the trailer. Even with a rear camera, the driver might miss something at either roof level or bumper level. There could be occasions when something will clear the bumper but not the trailer in front of the bumper.


03-23-2021, 09:08 AM
This isn't the exact same question but it does involve backing a 5th wheel by a newbie. Can I add this scenario here? We just changed from a 42 FT Diesel Pusher to a 34 ft 5th wheel being towed by a F250 Gaser. We did our due diligence and we are perfectly setup for the weight etc of our rig and it pulls as if it is not even there. However, our pad where we park is on a step hill with a gravel driveway. When I say steep, I mean maye a 45 degree hill that is fairly long as driveways go.... perhaps 200 ft. We can't keep enough traction to get the rig up on the pad. Tires spin on the gravel. Suggestions have been to asphalt it..(about $5k) or to add crush and run to it (about 1.5K but concerned it will wash away in rain), to abandoned ur $40k pad and give up. I don't want to put more $ into something that will ultimately fail. Thoughts?

03-24-2021, 07:57 AM
Sparkle, your RV has a gross vehicle weight of about 13,600 pounds and the factory lists pin weight empty of about 1,350 pounds. With a 5th wheel of that size your pin weight needs to be in the 2500-2700 pound range. The way to bring that pin weight up of course is to move everything possible forward inside the RV.
I also can't see anywhere that you have a four wheel drive truck. Without 4WD this may be a losing proposition. It may be that the black top is the only real answer.

03-24-2021, 08:16 AM
checked with hubby and our pin weight is good. We do have a 4 wheel drive as well. Our son had a diesel super duty FX4 that he pulls a larger 5th wheel with so I think next step is to see if he can get it up there with his 5th wheel. Thanks for the response.

03-25-2021, 12:08 AM
I owned travel trailers ("bumper pull") for many years, and was surprised how different backing (and somewhat towing) a 5th wheel is. I have a long truck (crew cab, full length bed) and it takes FOREVER to get the truck from one side of trailer centerline to the other. Or maybe it's me and I need to study Denis's post some more!

My Co-Pilot (wife) and I communicate via cell phones (with mine on truck's hands-free) while parking at campground; watching small hand signals in a mirror 50 feet away just doesn't cut it. When home, I do it alone (she's a "nervous" helper, and I can do it myself.

Great thread!